It’s birthday time! Every year since I started this blog, I’ve posted the sweet treat that I make for my partner’s birthday (apparently I also use the exact same candle in the photos every year). He’s not into traditional birthday cake, so I always try to make something different, especially delicious and a little over the top. It needs to be special. Normally, I make something that has a nostalgic feel to it. Two years ago it was a bienenstich cake that harkened back to his days working at a German bakery and last year I made chocolate babka, which was something that we both loved growing up. This year, I decided to go with ice cream. Without a doubt, it is his favourite sweet food. Of course, since I was making it from scratch, everything was possible in terms of the flavours and add-ins. I decided to play around with chocolate and hazelnut and ended up with this triple hazelnut ice cream.
I acknowledge that this is the second loaf cake that I have posted here in less than a month. The last one, a pear and dark chocolate gem, is perfect as a special occasion treat. While it might look understated, it is a knockout filled with chunks of dark chocolate nestled in a brown butter cake batter. This blackberry apple cake, on the other hand, is for snacking. It’s amazing how two cakes that look so similar can be made up of such different ingredients. While I certainly love making indulgent desserts every once in a while, it’s way more essential for me to have somewhat healthy, homemade snacks that I can eat throughout the day. Every day between meals, I may eat some pickles, nuts, or squares of dark chocolate (sometimes all within the same snacking session). But, the best weeks are when I have prepared something like this blackberry apple snacking cake. It’s a perfect sweet treat that feels extra special and indulgent but that I know is actually made up of pretty great ingredients.
Last week, I was brainstorming what I could bring to a Thanksgiving potluck as dessert and my boyfriend just kept repeating “What about apple pie?”. In the end, the idea grew on me and I went straight to researching all sorts of different pies. The closest I have ever come to making a pie before was when I made a strawberry galette, last summer. After reading about countless different types of apple and other fruit pies I made a couple of key decisions. First, I wanted a simple, flaky crust but only on the bottom. I saw a bunch of pies that had a crumble topping and I thought it was genius: you get buttery pastry and a crunchy, nutty top? Definitely the best of both worlds. Also, so that I wouldn’t have to use too much sugar I decided to use both tart and sweet apples in the filling, spiced with some nutmeg and cinnamon. Lastly, because I wanted to put a little twist on things, I decided I wanted to put rosemary throughout the pie: in the crust, topping and filling. I love rosemary and apples (actually I love rosemary with fruit and in desserts, generally)! And that’s how this rosemary apple pie was born.
This past week at the farmer’s market I bought a five pound box of organic apricots for five dollars. What was I going to do with five pounds of apricots? Good question. All I knew was that I couldn’t pass up such a good deal. Also, there was a catch. The apricots were good for baking but not so great fresh. They were very, very soft (which I knew when I bought them) and this made my options even more limited (because I could definitely easily eat at least one or two pounds of them by the handful). The first pound and a half of apricots were a no-brainer. I made this healthy breakfast crisp, which is perfect to have hanging out in the fridge. I figured I could also freeze some for smoothies. But, I was left with figuring out what to do with the rest. When I think of apricots, I think of apricot rosemary jam right away. In fact, one of the first recipes I posted on this blog was an apricot rosemary crisp. I had apricot rosemary jam for the first time in Scotland a few years ago. The flavour combination was amazing. But, I didn’t want to make jam on it’s own. It’s hard for us to get through a whole thing of jam because we don’t really eat much bread. In looking up jam recipes online I finally came across a winner. My New Roots had sandwich cookies on her website, so I decided that apricot jam sandwich cookies was a pretty good use for the rest of my apricots.